Clay Leads Charge

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The Badger RB earned Player of the Week honors in the Big Ten.

The Badger RB earned Player of the Week honors in the Big Ten.

There is no finer example of a coach who stressed the importance of an education and the fruits of a hard day’s work than Woody Hayes. But as great a man as Hayes was, he was by no means a good sport. When a reporter asked Hayes why he went for two against Michigan while already possessing a sizable lead, Hayes famously responded, “Because they wouldn’t let me go for three.” Classic stuff.

Bret Bielema, apparently, is not a good sport, either. Just a good coach, and someone who understands that in college football, being a poor sport is encouraged by the men who make the rules.

It’s hard to endorse Bielema’s decision to go for two when leading lowly Minnesota 41–16 with six and a half minutes to go. Regardless of what the card told Bielema to do, that’s just not the way coaches ought to handle such matters. But guess what? Bielema’s crime is petty as compared to what goes on in college football during an average weekend. Take this past Saturday, for example:

• Boise State took possession of the ball midway through the third quarter with a 43–7 lead over Toledo. After gaining a first down on the ground, Kellen Moore threw on first down for an 11-yard gain. Four plays later, Moore threw a 33-yard touchdown pass. It was only after that series that Boise State put a cap on its passing game.
• To open the second half of its win over Wyoming, TCU threw the ball on three of its first five snaps. The 91-yard drive put the Horned Frogs up 38–0. A four-yard touchdown pass on first and goal at the start of the fourth quarter ended the scoring at 45–0.
• Utah was running a balanced offense well after it reached the 50-point mark in its 68–27 win over Iowa State.
We’re hard on Bielema because we separate a conversion from play calling, but is there much of a difference? In each case, the team with the football could lay off the gas — stick to the running game or ignore what the scoring card says — but they’ve been taught differently. They’ve been taught that no lead is ever big enough, and that in college football’s poll system, the bigger the point total and margin of victory, the more votes a school can expect to receive come Sunday.
It’s all a shame, but that’s how college football is played.

The Week That Was
Badger backfield is double trouble for Gophers
John Clay captured co-Big Ten offensive player of the week honors for his 111-yard and three-touchdown performance on Saturday, but that was only half of Minnesota’s trouble with Wisconsin. Freshman James White contributed 118 yards and two scores in the victory. It was the second time in three weeks the two backs have both gained 100 or more yards in the same contest.

Purdue powers past Wildcats
Following a blocked field goal, Purdue took over the ball at its own 32-yard line midway through the fourth quarter trailing Northwestern, 17–13. From there, quarterback Ron Henry launched a 14-play drive that featured a heavy dose of fullback Dan Dierking. His seven-yard scoring run gave the Boilermakers their first conference win of the year. Purdue won the game despite gaining 110 fewer yards and losing the time of possession battle by more than eight minutes.

Scoreboard
Illinois 33, Penn State 13
Wisconsin 41, Minnesota 23
Ohio State 38, Indiana 10
Michigan State 34, Michigan 17
Purdue 20, Northwestern 17

Team of the Week: Michigan State
Week after week, Michigan State belongs here. First it was the gutsy call over Notre Dame, then the win after coach Mark Dantonio’s heart attack, then the upset over Wisconsin, and now a win over in-state rival Michigan in Ann Arbor. On Saturday, the Spartans didn’t just beat Michigan; they outscored them 31–7 in the second and third quarters combined.

Disappointment of the Week: Penn State
Penn State is not supposed to lose at home, and certainly not to Illinois. But Saturday’s defeat showed just how far Penn State has fallen this season. The Nittany Lions collected just seven first downs and gained just 65 yards on the ground. Even worse, Joe Pa’s club failed to score a single point in the second half.

Offensive Player of the Week: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Entering Saturday, the Big Ten’s best passer had been Indiana’s Ben Chappell. Pryor may have changed a few minds by throwing for a career-best 334 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over the Hoosiers. The junior quarterback completed 80 percent of his passes without an interception.

Defensive Player of the Week: Joe Holland, LB, Purdue
Holland was part of a defensive effort that limited Northwestern’s running game to just 2.0 yards per carry. Holland led the Boilermakers with 12 tackles, including a sack.

Freshman of the Week: Nathan Scheelhasse, QB, Illinois
Scheelhasse guided the Illini to an upset over Penn State by completing 15-of-19 passes for 151 yards and gaining 61 yards rushing on eight carries. In all, Scheelhasse led Illinois on six scoring drives.

The Week Ahead
Upset Alert: Iowa
Michigan fell from the rankings after falling flat against Michigan State. Now, though, the Wolverines are in a position to climb back into the conference race with a win over a still-unproven Hawkeyes club. After Illinois dismantled Penn State, Iowa no longer has a “quality win” to its credit, and will enter a hornet’s nest this weekend in Ann Arbor.
Player to Watch: Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
Facing a two-pronged rushing attack that includes quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse and running back Mikel Leshoure, Jones and his defensive mates must rise to the same level at which they performed last week. Jones has been a running game stuffer all year, and will need another encore this Saturday.
Additional Notes
Michigan has a growing star in Cameron Gordon, who has blocked a kick, recorded two interceptions and averages 7.7 tackles per contest. Gordon is the only freshman to rank among the top 40 in the conference in tackles (he’s currently tied for eighth).
Purdue leads the Big Ten in both sacks (17) and sack yards (109). The next closest squad is Illinois, with 12 sacks for 88 yards.
So far, Ohio State’s Devin Barclay leads all kickers in scoring and field goal accuracy. But the Big Ten’s best kicker might be Illinois’ Derek Dimke. Earlier this year Dimke made a 52-yarder against Missouri; last week, he made kicks from 50 and 41 yards. The junior has only missed one of his 11 attempts.

Predictions
Indiana 34, Arkansas State 17
Minnesota 20, Purdue 13
Michigan State 31, Illinois 10
Iowa 21, Michigan 20
Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 14
 

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